Before you grab your favourite bubble bath and fluffy towel and head outside, there’s something you need to know: forest bathing generally doesn’t involve water. Or a bathtub.
Since the Japanese recognised that walking in the forest can lead to all sorts of health benefits, they’ve been doing it religiously since the early 1980s. They even launched a national programme and coined the term forest bathing, or shinrin-yoku, to combat the modern affliction called nature deficit disorder.
More and more studies are confirming that the Japanese are onto a good thing, that time in a forest has true health benefits for everyone. Studies have shown that exposure to forests and tress can:
- Reduce stress and improve mood
- Lower blood pressure
- Boost the immune system
- Increase energy levels
- Improve sleep
- Accelerate recovery from surgery or illness
- Increase ability to focus, even for children with ADHD
Considering our current circumstances, couldn’t we all use some or all of the above? Since we’re fortunate enough to have forests all around us, let’s give it a go!
Step 1: Don your most comfy casual wear, good walking shoes, and possibly a sun hat.
Step 2: Head to your nearest forest and go for a leisurely walk.
Step 3: While you’re strolling along, take in the atmosphere with all your senses. Take a deep breath. Do it again. Now, what do you see around you? Can you identify the bird calls and other sounds? What are those smells? Is the tree bark warmer where that sliver of sun shines on it? Can you taste the foresty freshness on the air?
Congratulations, you’ve just had your first forest bath!